Monday, February 4, 2019

Vermont College President Offers Key Observations and Optimism

Important comments by president Matthew Derr of Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT were published by the Rutland (VT) Herald on February 2, 2019, "Vermont by Degrees: Optimism for our Future."

Derr begins by noting some recent higher education news items and cautions that a number of Vermont's institutions like Sterling College are actually thriving. He further argues that institutions with modest resources, "... can navigate tough times when leadership is stable and the board’s relationship with the president is healthy. Such a relationship is not simply about accommodating the president’s ideas, but rather it requires a balance of shared responsibility for the institution’s well-being."

Derr offers two key observations of struggling institutions.  They tend to have quite a bit of turnover for presidents and there is usually a tendency to see information sharing as a threat. 

Instead, Derr argues that recruitment of institutional leaders and continuity of the leadership over time are critical to insure that there is a good fit for leaders with the mission and institutional culture.  He then notes that engagement between a college’s stakeholders needs to be based on trust and that good communication and transparency is critical.

You can visit the Sterling College website to learn more about the programs offered and their relatively unique mission as a work college.

Sterling College has also been featured in several posts on the Small College Garden blog: President Derr was inaugurated as the 11th president of Sterling College in 2012.  He previously served Antioch College in Ohio.

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